A REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
january 8, 2013
The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in regular session on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:00 a.m., in the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting Room, Lake County Administration Building, Tavares, Florida. Commissioners present at the meeting were: Leslie Campione, Chairman; Jimmy Conner, Vice Chairman; Timothy I. Sullivan; Sean Parks; and Welton G. Cadwell. Others present were: David Heath, County Manager; Sanford A. “Sandy” Minkoff, County Attorney; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, County Manager’s Office; Barbara F. Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; and Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.
INVOCATION and pledge
Reverend Brooks Braswell from the First Baptist Church of Umatilla gave the Invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commr. Parks requested to add a discussion of a proclamation to his reports regarding Martin Luther King Day.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved adding that item to the agenda.
Mr. David Heath, County Manager, requested to pull Tab 9 involving the RFP for the Wellness Way Sector Plan, since they have a couple of suggested changes from their funding partners, and he stated that he will bring that back to the Board on January 22 after meeting with those partners.
Susan Irby, Human Resources Director, presented the following employee awards:
Gary Carbino, Construction Inspector I
Public Works/Road Operations Division
Jessica Jorge, Code Enforcement Supervisor
Conservation & Compliance/Code Enforcement Division
Maci Lowery, Firefighter/EMT (Not present)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
Sandra Rogers, Contracting Officer I
Fiscal and Administrative Services/Budget
Johnny Taylor, Hazardous Waste & E-Cycling Supervisor
Public Works/Solid Waste Division
Daniel Chimento, Firefighter/EMT (Not present)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
Daniel Miller, Battalion Fire Chief (Not present)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
TWENTY YEARS (presented by Wendy Breeden, Public Resources Director)
Rene Bass, Office Associate V
Public Resources/Agricultural Education Services Division
TWENTY FIVE YEARS
James Blackwell, Fire Marshal/Fire Captain (Not present)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
Edward Genter, Fire Lieutenant/EMT (presented by John Jolliff, Public Safety Director)
Public Safety/Fire Rescue Division
employee of the quarter
(Scott Blankenship, Economic Development &Tourism Director, presented the Employee of the Quarter and the TEAM awards.)
Kathy Pagan, Program Analyst, Economic Development and Tourism
The TEAM Award was presented to the Wings and Wildflowers Festival team, which included staff from Economic Development & Tourism, including Adam Ashton, Debi Dyer, Kathy Pagan, Adam Sumner, and Brenda Dimartino. Mr. Blankenship also recognized staff from Public Resources who helped with the festival, including Wendy Breeden; Judy Buckland, Program Specialist; Linda Goff, Librarian II; Wendy Poag, Recreation Coordinator; Juanita Popenoe; Gallus Quigley, Trails Recreation Specialist; and Tom Richards.
presentation of human trafficking proclamation
Ms. Lori Humphrey, Project Manager for the Shared Services Network, introduced some of the Executive Round Table members who have been involved in the Human Trafficking Taskforce, as well as other task force members, including Rep. Larry Metz, Jeff Shealey, Sue Cordova, and Stephanie Glass.
Commr. Conner mentioned that he was the liaison for the Children’s Services Network, and he explained that part of the purpose of this proclamation was to raise awareness of human trafficking, which was a large problem. He related that Rep. Larry Metz was working in Tallahassee to help them address this issue, and he thanked the group for bringing this awareness to their community, since most people are not aware of the gravity of the problem. He read Proclamation 2012-148, which has already been approved by the Board on December 4, 2012, recognizing January 1 – 11, 2013 as Human Trafficking Awareness Days.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner, and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Minutes of November 6, 2012 (Regular Meeting), November 20, 2012 (Regular Meeting), and December 4, 2012 (Regular Meeting) as presented.
citizen question and comment period
Mr. Vance Jochim, a resident of Tavares and writer of a blog about fiscal issues, expressed concern about Animal Services not billing pet owners for renewal of pet licenses and issuing warnings rather than citations to owners of pets without tags, which was noted in an internal audit recently reported in the local newspaper. He commented that billing an amount similar to the current rate used by other counties would have resulted in an additional $500,000 to $1 million in revenue for the general fund for the County. He also mentioned that the report was issued in November, but it was only on the BCC consent agenda and was not discussed, and he would have liked staff to present the reasons why no one was billing those charges. He suggested that the County should explore all of the revenues in general that they were not collecting but which they should be collecting to reduce budget concerns.
Commr. Campione responded that they will be discussing the pet license issue at the Animal Services Workshop at the next BCC Meeting.
Mr. Jon Pospisil commented that he has yet to hear a compelling reason why property owners should pay more in property taxes in order to pay for his development, since he was not required to pay any impact fees at this time, and he opined that impact fees were the most equitable way of funding the additional burdens placed on public services by new development. He noted that he supported the impact tax relief a few years ago, since he believed it did a lot more good than spending the same amount on advertising in terms of communicating to the business community that Lake County wished to be business-friendly.
CLERK OF COURTS’ CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Conner, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a 5-0 vote, the Board approved the Clerk of Courts’ Consent Agenda, Items 1 through 8, as follows:
List of Warrants
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of warrants paid prior to this meeting, pursuant to Chapter 136.06 (1) of the Florida Statutes, which shall be incorporated into the Minutes as attached Exhibit A and filed in the Board Support Division of the Clerk’s Office.
Property Placed on the Lands Available List
Request to acknowledge receipt of the list of property placed on the Lands Available List. Lake County has until March 4, 2013 to purchase property from the Lands Available List before it is available to the public.
Request to acknowledge receipt of the list of property placed on the Lands Available List. Lake County has until March 11, 2013 to purchase property from the Lands Available List before it is available to the public.
Request to acknowledge receipt of list of property placed on the Lands Available List. Lake County has until March 18, 2013 to purchase property from the Lands Available List before it is available to the public.
Ordinance from Town of Montverde
Request to acknowledge receipt of Ordinance 2012-08 from the Town of Montverde amending the municipal limits of the Town by voluntary annexation, along with a letter stating that the ordinance was adopted on October 9, 2012.
SJRWMD 2013 Governing Board Meeting Schedule
Request to acknowledge receipt of the 2013 Governing Board Meeting Schedule from the St. Johns River Water Management District, pursuant to 189.417 Florida Statutes, stating that the meetings are held at District Headquarters at 4049 Reid Street, Palatka.
Resolution from Country Green CDD
Request to acknowledge receipt of a letter and certified copy of Resolution 2013-2 from the Country Greens Community Development District informing that they selected Roy Van Wyk as its new Registered Agent and his business address, which is Hopping, Green & Sams, P.A., 119 S. Monroe Street, Suite 300, Tallahassee, Florida 32301 as its Registered Office whose telephone number is (850) 222-7500.
Bulletin from Florida Public Service Commission
Request to acknowledge receipt of a bulletin from the Florida Public Service Commission regarding an application filed by TLP Water, Inc. for a staff-assisted rate case to increase its water rates in Lake County, Docket No. 120183-WU, and announcing a customer meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 9, 2013, at 6:00 p.m. at the city of Tavares Civic Center, 100 East Caroline Street, Tavares.
COUNTY MANAGER’S CONSENT AGENDA
Commr. Conner pointed out that the bid from the local vendor for Tab 5 was 40 percent more than the bid that was accepted in response to an email that they were not awarding that project to a local vendor, and accepting the lowest bid would save the County about $32,000.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the County Manager’s Consent Agenda, Tabs 3 through 14, pulling Tab 9 as follows:
Request for approval of and authorization for the Chairman to sign the FY 2012-2013 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) agreements with the City of Tavares (not to exceed $52,500) and the City of Minneola (not to exceed $35,000). Approval is also requested for the First Amendment to the FY 2010-11 West Leesburg Community Development Agency agreement (not to exceed $75,000) and the First Amendment to the FY 2011-2012 Town of Montverde agreement (not to exceed $52,500). The fiscal impact is $215,000.00 (Expense-100%CDBG Funding).
Request for approval and signature of Resolution No. 2013-1 for the Lake County Board of County Commissioners to continue as the Community Transportation Coordinator for Lake County. There is no fiscal impact at this time.
Facilities Development and Management
Request for approval of contract for various site renovations at Fire Station 77 (Astatula) to Estep Construction, Apopka, Florida, and approve related budget transfer. The renovations include provision of a new driveway, new flagpoles, new signage, and a new fire hydrant with standpipe. The fiscal impact is $83,900 (Expense).
Fiscal and Administrative Services
Request for approval to (1) declare the items on the attached list(s) surplus to County needs, and (2) authorize the removal of all of the items on the attached lists from the County's official fixed asset inventory system records.
Request to approve Unanticipated Revenue Resolution No. 2013-2 for the receipt of funds from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) for the Supervisor of Elections Office. The fiscal impact is $50,944 (revenue).
Request for approval to solicit and accept sponsorships for a Lake County event - The 2nd Annual Central Florida Landscaping and Garden Fair to be held in April at the Lake County Agricultural Center. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval and signature of US Locality Domain Name Registration Terms and Conditions. There is no fiscal impact.
Request for approval and execution of Amendment to the Interlocal Agreement between Lake County and the City of Clermont to amend the way payments are made for inspection/maintenance of 1245 signs. Lake County to bill City of Clermont annually instead of monthly for signs within the current inventory; revenue $12,549.60.
Request for (1) approval and signature to adopt Resolution No. 2013-3 and execute the FDOT LAP Agreement for the construction of the South Lake Trail-Phase 3A (from Clermont Trail to Silver Eagle); (2) approval for Public Works to move forward with construction of South Lake Trail-Phase 3A and Advertise for Bids; (3) approval to Advertise for Bids on Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) services for the construction of the South Lake Trail-Phase 3A; and (4) approval and signature of Unanticipated Revenue Resolution No. 2013-4 to amend the Budget. The fiscal impact is $2,828,475 (100% Grant Funded). Commission District 1.
Request to approve and execute a purchase agreement with Leslie Dean and Lois J. Bredeweg, as owners/managers of Father’s Farms, LLC for right of way consisting of 3 lots for a water retention pond, a corner clip and a drainage easement needed for the Bible Camp Road Project. Also authorization for the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners to sign any and all documents necessary for closing on the property in conjunction with this purchase contract. The fiscal impact is $58,000.00 (Road Impact Fee BD6). Commission District 1.
Request to approve and execute an amendment to the purchase agreement dated September 25, 2012 between Lake County and Pine Ridge Dairy, Inc. to extend the contract to March 31, 2013 to allow Lake County to secure a St. Johns Water Management Stormwater Permit on alternate pond locations requested by the "Seller" for CR 466A. There is no fiscal impact. Commission District 5.
COUNTY ATTORNEY’S CONSENT AGENDA
On a motion by Commr. Sullivan, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the County Attorney’s Consent Agenda, Tabs 15 through 18 as follows:
Request for approval of the agreement between Gray Insurance Company and Lake County to Release Bonded Contract Funds to Gray Insurance Company. The fiscal impact is $36,236.89 (Expense).
Request for approval of renewal of District Office Lease to provide office space for Congressman Daniel Webster at the Clerk's Public Records Center located at 122 E. Main Street, Tavares.
Request for approval to cancel the Mortgage and release the Note executed by Andrew and Becky Buttrick on December 31, 2007, and recorded at O.R. Book 3561, Pages 1862 through 1862, upon receipt of the $1,000 payment. Fiscal Impact: The original loan amount was $30,000; recovery will be $1,000.
Request for approval to advertise Ordinance amending the membership requirements for the Mt. Plymouth-Sorrento Community Redevelopment Advisory Committee to allow for the qualification of a committee member residing outside the Planning Area, but who may have significant family or business ties within the Planning Area.
presentation by bb&t bank on state of economy
Ms. Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance, announced that three representatives of Branch Banking & Trust (BB&T), the County’s checking account and banking services provider, were present at the meeting, who were Mr. Mark Irwin, Area Executive and Client Services Manager; Mr. Scott Keith, Regional President for North Florida Region; and Mr. Andrew Tate, Investment Manager from the Sterling Management Company, who has over 14 years of experience in this field and who will be discussing the economic trends.
Mr. Tate initially discussed the “fiscal cliff” deal that had recently been reached by the federal government, noting that it was mainly focused on revenue enhancement of about $600 billion over the next ten years, including raising the maximum tax rate to 39.6 percent for high earners, rather than addressing spending. However, he mentioned that the fact that the Payroll Tax Holiday was not extended affected all earners, raising the payroll tax from 4 to 6 percent. He predicted that the economy would have grown 2 to 3 percent in 2013 if the “fiscal cliff” was entirely avoided; however, the tax increases enacted will slow growth. He commented that in 2008 consumers were starting to save money for the first time in a number of years and spending more responsibly. He opined that interest rates will stay very low and unemployment will stay over 7 percent; he also foresaw some near-term volatility as they approach the debt limit increase, although they are not seeing a huge sell-off of treasury securities. He commented that there needed to be significant job growth to make up for all of the jobs that were lost, and a pessimistic job outlook and high unemployment has been holding back consumer spending. He illustrated on some graphs that there was some modest rebound of manufacturing activity and expansion and mentioned that there was almost a real-time economy. On a positive note, he pointed out that the housing market has been increasing for about six straight months, which is giving the consumer a little more confidence, and he commented that the decrease of people’s home values psychologically affected them to the extent that they started becoming more fiscally responsible and spending less. He also mentioned that a high amount of mortgage refinances is reducing monthly outlays for the consumer and freeing up discretionary income for people to spend money to stimulate the economy. He added, however, that now there was a lot more mortgage documentation required, resulting in a more educated consumer who was incurring that debt. He reported that inflation has been running about 2 to 2 ½ percent, and he pointed out that when gas prices get above $4 per gallon, consumers tend to delay making purchases until they can better afford them.
Mr. Tate commented that the federal deficit and debt were at a near record level and unsustainable on a long-term basis, although the raise in revenue was part of a correction of that. He also commented that failure to extend the payroll tax holiday was a way to capture some revenue, since there were not enough high earners to generate enough additional tax to remedy the problem. He reported that state tax collections have increased, although at a slower pace, and state spending had increased recently after a sharp decrease after 2006. He related that there has not been a lot of supply in the municipal sector, resulting in very high demand, and credit spreads compress dramatically in this market and have become favorable for issuing debts. He showed graphs illustrating that in shorter maturities, municipals that are tax exempt are many times actually out-yielding treasury securities. He advised the County to stick to their investment policies and make sure they were not pushing out too far to get yield, since eventually rates will go out, which would be bad for bond prices, and he mentioned that their investments were typically fairly limited to government securities and the state pool. He related that when they manage bond portfolios that are for three years or shorter, they are staying at the target they discussed with their clients, but for their longer portfolios of five or ten years, they are staying short to the targets to minimize volatility and to give themselves more flexibility. He summarized they are seeing some slow growth in the economy, and at this point he does not see them going back into recession, but they think some spending cuts will occur by the federal government, the debt limit should be increased, and they expect interest rates to stay where they are. They also see equity markets being volatile in the first quarter and going sideways for the rest of the year.
Mr. Heath commented that he wanted to have an outsider come in to provide an economic forecast to jumpstart their budget process, and he pointed out that BB&T is consistent with Lake County philosophy and that it was positive to have someone from the private sector speak to them.
Commr. Campione recognized Mr. Skip Babb, the former Public Defender, who was in attendance at the meeting and thanked him for his years of service and the standard he has set for Mr. Mike Graves, the incoming Public Defender.
presentation of golden triangle fire district proposal
Mayor Bob Thielhelm from the City of Mount Dora explained that he, along with city and fire officials from Eustis, Mount Dora, and Tavares, were there as a result of the effort of the fire chiefs of those cities to explore innovative options to deliver cost-efficient fire and EMS services. He elaborated that this effort culminated in a joint proposal that was approved at the October 22, 2012 Golden Triangle City Summit Meeting and forwarded onto the Board in response to a challenge that was issued by the Board to all of the Lake County cities on December 7, 2010 to improve fire service in the county. He stated that they seek the County’s participation in further refining the details of their proposal toward implementation of the fire district. He related that their cities have standardized service and operations, established with cooperative support to conduct joint training and sharing of personnel resources, instituted cooperative purchasing and cross utilization of equipment and other resources, conducted preplanning of special needs and hazards, consolidated special operations support, and have committed to deliver advanced life support to all three cities. He commented that there are a number of mutual benefits of the proposal to both the County and the cities, including an improvement in response times, especially in the enclave areas; efficient use of the existing station locations; elimination of redundant operations resulting in achieving greater efficiency; lower fire insurance for residents; efficient and effective use of personnel and equipment which preserves at least 50 percent of the existing fire fees to support fire operations in the County areas; and allowing the cities and County to better realign their deployment strategy for their respective service areas. He summarized that they believe this fire service proposal will greater improve the delivery and reduce the cost of fire services while saving property and lives in the Golden Triangle area, and they would appreciate the County’s continued support to make their proposal a reality.
Mayor Robert Wolfe from the City of Tavares related that they have been working on this proposal for about three to four years and commented that all three cities completely agree on this issue. He stated that he hoped the County will also get on board to work together to help the citizens and taxpayers and show them that they want to spend their tax dollars the most effectively and efficiently.
Mr. Kress Muenzmay, Vice Mayor for the City of Eustis, commented on the current economic situation and the fact that employees are now paying more in taxes. He opined that this opportunity was something that is rarely seen and was best for the taxpayers in the community. He stated that he hoped the Board will support this proposal so that they can work together as they move forward with this project.
Mr. Richard Keith, Fire Chief of Tavares, noted that this issue has been discussed for decades and commented that this is a good time to do something significant in the way fire service is provided in this particular area and hopefully to make a difference in the rest of the county. He noted that this was the official public meeting to introduce this plan, and he showed before and after maps which reflected the proposed plan, using colors to designate the three response zones based on the current city limits for the municipalities in the Golden Triangle area, pointing out the municipal fire stations and the Lake County Fire Stations in red. He pointed out that large enclaves in unincorporated Lake County which are surrounded by the cities are still primarily serviced by the County for fire protection, which is already stretched pretty thin, and the cities have come up with an alternate idea for significant ways to make changes which would make the enclaves disappear from the map for only fire protection purposes by partnering with Lake County in much the same way that they have already partnered on many of the other infrastructure resources that the County provides such as group dispatching through Lake EMS and the 800 MHz radio system. He mentioned that the cities have been working together for several years already, but this is an opportunity for the County to be the fourth member of this Golden Triangle fire protection district. He commented that the autonomy of the individual fire departments is expected to go away, and this would operate as one large fire department, although that is one of the many details that have to be worked out. He noted that the response zones are an integral part of the plan and are only for the initial first assignment. He opined that the placement of the fire stations throughout the area is extremely advantageous. He specified that Station 27 is in a great location to benefit the City of Eustis, which needs a station on the north or east quadrant, and he recommended that the County give Eustis that station to operate as Eustis Station 23 and remain an advanced life support provider. He mentioned that any of the three cities’ fire chiefs would be glad to meet with any of the Commissioners individually to discuss any of this more in length, since there were many details yet to work out.
Mr. Paul Berg, Eustis City Manager, pointed out that the Golden Triangle cities have found ways to consciously work together every single day, with the fire service being only one of the ways that those cities have done so, even though they also compete with each other on a lot of different levels. He mentioned that their fire departments already coordinate their services regularly and that they have been discussing the fire service issue for a long time. He opined that their proposal is compelling, important, and worthwhile and warrants the County’s time and consideration to evaluate it. He explained that the proposed plan called for the reliance on the cities to provide fire protection services in the urban areas with the County using their resources to focus on supplying fire services in the rural areas. He asked the County to consider the proposal and direct its staff to conduct whatever evaluation they need to in order to give this a fair, open, and public discussion, noting that he hoped they could continue to work together on this after the County’s presentation at the next meeting regarding the County’s fire services to iron out the details in order to keep moving this issue forward in a constructive way.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he would be interested in seeing a map of other cities that have enclave issues during the next presentation so that they can discuss the integrity of the countywide system at that time.
Mr. Heath responded that that is scheduled for the February 26 meeting, and he believes the presentation given by Ms. Amye King, Growth Management Director, regarding the ISBA, the development patterns, and the enclaves at that time will address that issue.
Commr. Campione commented that she appreciated the time and effort the cities have put into this.
Commr. Parks added that it was refreshing to see that kind of cooperation in order to get something done that was good for the residents, and he suggested that they look at the true first responders agreements in order to get some preliminary data for accurate numbers on that. He commented that conceptually this looks like a good plan for benefiting everyone in the area.
Commr. Sullivan opined that it was amazing to get three cities to agree on anything. He commented that although he was very supportive of moving forward with this and believed it was a great idea, the details such as the revenues to fund their fire services still had to be worked out in the austere times they were looking at. However, he thought that if they could provide better service at a lower cost and provide any savings in homeowners insurance to residents, it would help put more money in the economy.
Commr. Conner commented on the strong leadership that the cities currently have and the lack of territorialism from the politicians in those communities. He opined that providing fire service based on annexations does not make any sense and that the “after” map shown during this presentation makes a lot more sense than the current map. He added that for three city managers, fire chiefs, and bodies of government to work together was unprecedented and remarkable. He stated, however, that he believes they still need to look at the issue of the financial ramifications to the County.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 10:30 a.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
presentation of the cfac recommendations for school district
Ms. Amye King explained that the purpose of this presentation was to provide the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee’s (CFAC) recommendations on the school impact fee suspension, which ends March 1, and the unfunded capital needs of the School District. She recapped that the school impact fees are currently suspended through March 31, 2013, and a study conducted by Henderson, Young and Company completed on June 7, 2011 showed that the school impact fee for a single-family dwelling unit should be $10,292.38; however, if no action is taken or the suspension is not extended, the impact fee will be $9,324 as adopted in March of 2008. She also noted that School Impact Fees were first implanted on August 1, 1991, but the method of calculating the fees was changed since then to a set fee depending on the structure rather than by the number of bedrooms in the dwelling. She pointed out that the impact fee funds could only be used to provide growth-necessitated capital improvements, such as land acquisition, payment of principal and interest, and furniture and equipment, and she mentioned that the CFAC was tasked in 2012 with making recommendations to fund capital needs of the School District. She gave a summary of unfunded capital needs from the 5-year plan, which included maintenance, fleet replacement, and computer refresh, at cost of $58,522,375; and she reported that the unfunded total long-range planning recommendations for existing facilities was $260,000,000.
Mr. Bill Benham, CFAC Chairman, related that they met eight times to look into potential funding sources that exist for the school system, including a half cent sales tax that the School Board could pursue on their own to raise capital for their projects, which would require voter approval; a one mil tax that the legislature gave the school systems permission to be levied for four years with voter approval; and impact fees, which are currently on a moratorium pursuant to economic conditions but which could be reinstituted with only BCC approval. He also related that they came up with an idea of a documentary stamp tax that could be originated within the legislature to help all school systems in the state as a potential funding source, upon approval of the legislature; and another funding source they recommended is the restoration of the 2 mil capital outlay levy to schools as opposed to the reduced current 1.5 mil. He reported that the CFAC recommendations were to adopt a school impact fee appropriate with the current economic conditions in the future, but to currently suspend the school impact fees for one more year until March 31, 2014, as well as for the School Board to pursue the half cent sales tax on their own rather than share the one penny tax with the County and municipalities as they currently do. He related that the committee also thought the documentary stamp tax was a very good idea, mentioning that Rep. Alan Hayes expressed interest in looking at that, and that the County should consider restoring the two mil capital levy going forward. He pointed out that they were not in support of a four-year one mil ad valorem property tax levy at this time, since he believed that the intent of that legislation was for an emergency situation only.
Ms. King related that the CFAC recommendations were given to the School Board on December 10, 2012, but the School Board did not reach a consensus on whether or not they recommended resuming the suspension or at what rate to re-enact the school impact fees and requested a joint meeting with the BCC. She recommended that the School Board make a recommendation by March, based on a timeline for an ordinance that either extends the suspension or re-enacts the impact fees, and she pointed out that the approval to advertise the ordinance is scheduled for the February 12 meeting agenda in order to be adopted on March 12.
Commr. Cadwell asked if the School Board’s decision whether or not to ask for the half penny sales tax would affect the chances of the renewal of the current one cent sales tax they currently share and what affect that would have on roads and other projects.
Mr. Benham mentioned that the CFAC also had this dilemma when they were looking at funding road projects and noted that if both taxes were passed, it would raise sales tax in Lake County to 7 ½ percent, which he believed would be politically very unpalatable in the current environment; however, the committee felt that the school system would be successful in getting the half cent tax approved by the voters if they could show their needs to the community.
Commr. Cadwell opined that they would have a better chance of getting the voters to approve the taxes if they all worked together and only asked for and shared the current one cent.
Mr. Benham pointed out that they currently had $350 million worth of unfunded capital needs moving forward, without any other sources of revenue.
Commr. Cadwell also commented that the School Board needed to reach a consensus before meeting with the BCC.
Commr. Conner commented that a lot of hard work was put into these recommendations and that they need to give them serious consideration. He opined, however, that the schools were a critical component of the success of renewing the sales tax the last time it was renewed, and he believes they should continue with that successful model. He agreed with Commr. Cadwell that the School Board, the BCC, and the cities should all work together to formulate a strategy regarding this issue and to use the model that was used in the past.
Mr. Benham reported that a one-third cent tax for a 15-year period flowing to the school system would generate $154 million, which would probably cover about half of the need. He also mentioned that the school system would have collected between $5 million to $7 million if the impact fees were still in existence.
Commr. Conner opined that fewer building permits would have been pulled if the County had not waived the impact fee, since the suspension incentivized some of that activity.
Mr. Benham commented that one of the problems is that the County in the past has looked at impact fees as a reliable funding source, although it is not, which is the cause of the current trouble funding the capital needs going forward.
Commr. Conner commented that the School Board has a very limited amount of ways to raise capital money, but exorbitant impact fees result in new construction taking an unfair burden of the cost, and he pointed out that the County has had no success with implementing documentary stamp taxes.
Mr. Benham recommended that the County move immediately to renew the existing penny sales tax, since he realized that the funding sources were very limited, as well as put a comprehensive program together taking into consideration the revenue sources and the maximum capacity going forward. He added that there were gas taxes that the County was not currently utilizing. He commented that the CFAC has made great recommendations, and the Board should move forward with those.
Commr. Cadwell stated that he wanted to see the numbers associated with the doc stamp tax to see the funding that can be generated by that.
Commr. Campione responded that she believes they should evaluate that fully and get the cities and FAC involved to look into whether they can build the consensus statewide to give local governments the option of the doc stamp tax versus impact fees. She added that they have to factor in the fact that impact fees affect the price of a home to the consumer.
Commr. Conner suggested that the Board set a date certain to have a vote about this issue before the last meeting in March in order to lessen uncertainty in the building community and then send a letter to the School Board informing them of the date the Board will be voting on impact fees and asking them to send the Board a recommendation before then.
Commr. Campione stated that the Board should also convey their concern about how impact fees will affect unemployment and the local economy, which is their primary concern. She pointed out that the CFAC recommended waiting one more year before reinstituting impact fees in order to get through this economic time. She agreed that the School Board should give them a recommendation regarding impact fees, and they should all meet sometime in the future to discuss how they could work together on the issue of the reinstitution of the penny sales tax. She also noted that a lack of recommendation or consensus from the School Board will be interpreted as a recommendation to not reinstate the impact fees.
School Board Member Bill Mathias commented that he did not think that the School Board needed to convey a consensus at the time that the CFAC presentation was given, and he assured the Board that the School Board was prepared to give them a recommendation.
There was a consensus of the Board to write a letter to the School Board conveying to them the date the Board will be voting on impact fees and asking them to send the Board a recommendation before February 12.
Commr. Campione asked Commr. Cadwell to ask the FAC about the doc stamp tax and other options they could get some help with.
Mr. Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, related that several years ago a proposal by one of the home builders was discussed at the legislature, but it did not go anywhere.
Commr. Parks asked the staff to look into spreading impact fees out with an assessment for a period of about 5 to 7 years as opposed to collecting the fee all at once and whether other counties have done that.
Mr. Minkoff explained that the County did some assessments for transportation in the past, including a commercial project in Leesburg, and they have to make sure they get a first mortgage on the property. He commented that it was time intensive and expensive to do that on a case-by-case basis but was a lot easier to do it on a development by development basis. He also mentioned that the County proposed this at one time, but the School Board was opposed to delaying collection of impact fees over time.
Commr. Campione commented that having all this information available to the Board when they have the discussion regarding transportation impact fees will be very helpful to them.
COUNTY MANAGER’S DEPARTMENTAL BUSINESS
presentation of comprehensive plan and ldr amendments
Mr. Brian Sheahan, Planning and Design Manager, Department of Growth Management, related that this presentation was to update the Board on the Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulation updates as well as the progress of the amendment schedule approved by the Board in November of 2011. He reported that the Comp Plan amendments that staff has done so far are the Pine Lakes Rural Support Corridor Amendment, vestings to the 2030 Comp Plan, wetland setback amendment for canals and previously granted average setbacks which created hardship for some residents, and the work with the Green Swamp Mining Committee as required by the plan; they have also initiated and started the Wellness Way Sector Plan with the completion of the scoping meeting and will be issuing an RFP shortly as well as started a rural support corridor amendment to increase the size of the building and impervious surface area on all rural support corridors throughout the county. He stated that they have also begun work on the Comp Plan Amendments that were rejected by the DCA on procedural grounds, which will be brought before the Board within the next couple of months, and they plan on proceeding with the Comprehensive Plan policy amendments that were recommended by the Green Swamp Mining Committee; also, they have received two applicant-initiated Comp Plan amendments for the first cycle of 2013. He mentioned that other programs and projects staff was working on included online development permitting and tutorials, the Open for Business initiatives, Enterprise Zones, the Airport Summit, and various ISBA’s.
Mr. Sheahan recapped that the Board also asked staff to look into Agenda 21, which is the United Nations non-binding, voluntary sustainable development action plan as a product of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in Rio de Janeiro. As a result, an action agenda was produced for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments that could be executed at the local, national, and global levels. He pointed out that Agenda 21 is not a treaty, since it has not been ratified by the Senate or the executive branch. He commented that the issues with Agenda 21 are increasing and has been opposed in the United States at the local, state, and federal levels, with several state and local governments considering legislation opposing it, although Alabama is the only state so far that has adopted legislation concerning Agenda 21. He related that Lake County has brought forth a legislative agenda to deal with Agenda 21 asking the Lake County Delegation to create a study commission to review and evaluate the relevance and impact of it, and he stated that staff will report back to the Board on their findings once the legislative session is completed.
Mr. Sheahan related that regarding the Land Development Regulation program, staff brought forth the Landscape Ordinance amendments, Agricultural Signs, and Agricultural Uses in Industrial Zoning; and they also plan on completing Nonconformities, Vested Rights, and Zoning Districts this year. He indicated that they have also added Multi-Tenant Signs, Agricultural Uses in Industrial Zoning, Agriculture and Special Event Signs, a Zoning Board change to the title of the Planning and Zoning Board, Family Gardens, Flood Ordinance, Special Events, and Transfer of Development Rights all to the first-year work program, which were not originally scheduled. Due to these additions, he recommended that they move the Zoning Map which was originally planned for completion in year 2 to year 3. He also went over what they plan for completion in year 2, including the Mining Regulations and Green Swamp and Wekiva Regulations, and he mentioned that they reserved year 3 for the Zoning Map and Special Communities and Overlay Districts and that they were wrapping the process up in years 4 and 5.
Mr. Sheahan recapped that the Board asked in November for staff to bring back a discussion item on postponements, noting that currently notice is published ten to 12 days prior to public hearing, but in 2009 the Board revised the LDR to allow staff to postpone a hearing after notice one time if requested 10 days prior to the hearing by the applicant to avoid multiple continuances. He went over the policies of other counties regarding postponements, stating that Orange and Sumter Counties do not allow postponements if it is advertised and that Osceola County allows two postponements; however, in both counties postponements may be requested up to the day of the hearing with approval of the BCC. He suggested that a potential solution would be to amend the LDR to require a four-fifths vote to postpone a hearing in order to demonstrate good cause to the Board or to amend the LDR to allow the applicant or staff to continue the application for cause five days prior to the hearing and require immediate notification of citizens that provide contact information at the Planning and Zoning Hearing. He concluded that the next steps would be to approve the Comprehensive Plan and LDR program and get Board direction on the postponement policy.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that postponements can be very beneficial, and he believes the current rules they operate under are good and that they should leave the policy as is.
Commr. Campione opined that postponement requests should always be allowed to come to the Board so that they can decide whether it is in the best interest of everyone.
Commr. Cadwell commented that he did not have a problem with the five-day notice.
Commr. Conner also agreed with a five-day notice, which he thought would give people a better opportunity to work things out.
On a motion by Commr. Cadwell, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved to amend the LDR regarding postponement to allow the applicant or staff to continue the application for cause five days prior to the hearing and require immediate notification of citizens that provide contact information at the Planning and Zoning Hearing, as well as approval to advertise the ordinance and approval of the Comprehensive Plan and LDR Amendment program.
Commr. Campione related that she made the presentation to the legislative delegation the other day regarding Agenda 21, which she commented contained a lot of insidious implications. She noted that while they were only a signatory, there was a climate change treaty that they actually did sign which serves as the basis for all of the different things that were put into place, and she believed it was worth taking a look at that so that they have the full picture.
Commr. Parks encouraged staff to continue with the online development and permitting tools as fast as possible, because he believed that would make the County business friendly and contribute to creating jobs in the county.
Mr. Heath mentioned that the online permitting issue would be coming back to the Board on February 12.
special assessment for granville avenue in clermont
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, related that the Granville Road special assessment was discussed several times over the last few years, and this agenda item was to approve moving forward with the design. He noted that the property is in south Lake County off of SR 50 and connects to the Senninger property to the south, and 55 percent of the property owners who own 42 percent of the road frontage have signed petitions to support moving forward with this. He reported that the total cost of the property currently is estimated at $240,000, with the County’s share being $120,000, and Senninger Irrigation would deed the right of way as well as advance $50,000 for the private property owner’s share of this project, which reduces the cost to the other owners. He explained that once the assessment comes through, $120,000 of gas tax will be used, and the remaining portion will roll over as a revenue stream. He mentioned that the special assessment will be on the property owners’ tax bills and will be paid similar to other special assessments the County has done over the last few years. He indicated that the Clermont City Manager has indicated that the city has agreed to put utility lines in as part of the construction project. He gave a timeline for the project and asked for approval at this meeting of just the design work, adding that he will be coming back to the Board in July with a request for approval to advertise for bids for the construction of the road. He added that they expect construction to begin in October 2013, with completion in February 2014, which is when they will reconcile everything the way they do with other special assessments, and the pooled cash fund will then receive principal and interest payments on an annual basis when the tax bills are paid.
Commr. Cadwell asked whether moving this project ahead of other projects would delay them, since the County is strapped for cash for special assessment projects.
Mr. Stivender responded that the timing of every project is in a perpetual state of change as other projects come to the surface, but he assured him that the County has enough money in order to shift dollars around to complete the other projects that were pending as well.
Commr. Campione commented that this project has the ability to grow the local economy.
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Sullivan and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board gave authorization to proceed with the design of Special Assessment No. 103 for Granville Avenue, located in Clermont, Section 26, Township 22, Range 26. The fiscal impact is approximately $5,000.00 for the Environmental Site Assessment and geotechnical work (funded by gas tax).
appointment to board of building examiners
On a motion by Commr. Parks, seconded by Commr. Conner and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board approved the reappointment of the following members to the Board of Building Examiners to serve a four-year term ending January 14, 2017: William Lindemann (Engineer), James Moore, Jr. (Certified Building Contractor), William Scott (Consumer Member), and appointment of William Hauser (Certified Building Contractor) and Ray Newman (Consumer Member).
reports – county attorney
presentation on sunshine law, ethics, and public records
Sandy Minkoff, County Attorney, reported that he will be at the Town of Montverde Council meeting that night giving a presentation on Sunshine Law, Ethics, and Public Records as they had requested.
reports – commissioner sullivan – district 1
florida association of counties education summit
Commr. Sullivan related that he would be attending the Florida Association of Counties Education Summit as a new County Commissioner for the next two days in Gainesville.
reports – commissioner parks – district 2
abc for teens program
Commr. Parks related that he spent some time with the ABC (Always the Best Choice) program at Leesburg High School, which teaches freshman in high school about making good long-term choices, since the County had allocated $14,000 last year to that program through the Children’s Services Grants. He commented that it was a great program and highly encouraged the Commissioners to sit in on one of the sessions at a nearby school. He opined that the program was saving the County money from having to expend funds for assaults, underage drinking, teenage pregnancy, and the impact of those choices.
proclamation for martin luther king celebration
Commr. Parks informed the Board that he would read and present a Proclamation at the Martin Luther King Celebration in Clermont on January 21, which was adopted by the Board at a previous BCC Meeting last year, and he clarified that the proclamation did not need to be specific to Clermont.
update on waterstar program
Commr. Parks gave an update on the WaterStar Training Cooperative Funding Grant from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJWMD), commenting that he thought it was a successful program and noting that it was the equivalent of EnergyStar for water efficiency standards. He recapped that they had received the grant from St. Johns to teach and certify the WaterStar program to their local businesses. He reported that 30 of the 69 people who passed the exam were Lake County residents, with 11 of those becoming accredited professionals in landscaping and 19 of the 30 becoming accredited in irrigation. He commented that the WaterStar program is good for their businesses, because it is something those businesses can market to give them a competitive edge.
Mr. Kraig McLane, Intergovernmental Affairs Director from the SJRWMD, commented that the District always looks forward to working with the County on projects, ideas, and partnerships; and this particular one brings some of the landscape professionals up to the current standards of what they were doing through the Florida WaterStar program.
Commr. Parks also thanked the Home Builders Association, noting that they were supportive of that program, helped get the word out, and were at the training sessions.
REPORTS – COMMISsIONER campione – CHAIRMAN & DISTRICT 4
liaison and membership appointments
Commr. Campione related that she will postpone handing out the 2013 list of liaison and membership appointments until the next BCC meeting, since there were some changes she wanted to make to it. However, she related that she would like to ask Commr. Cadwell to stay on as the Chairman of the TDC (Tourist Development Council).
On a motion by Commr. Conner, seconded by Commr. Parks and carried unanimously by a vote of 5-0, the Board reappointed Commr. Cadwell as Chairman of the TDC and approved Resolution No. 2013-5.
trip on lake apopka
Commr. Campione mentioned that she spent several hours on a trip on Lake Apopka on Monday, January 7, with several members of the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board, which gave her a great chance to see the North Shore, part of the Apopka Loop Trail, and the two pilot dredging projects in Winter Garden and Magnolia Park.
reports – commissioner cadwell – district 5
ribbon cutting for umatilla water system
Commr. Cadwell reported that he will be attending the ribbon cutting for the Umatilla Water System next Tuesday, January 15, at 9:30 a.m., and he commented that he appreciated all of the work everyone did on that.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 12:15 p.m. that there would be a recess until the budget workshop at 1:30 p.m.
Mr. Heath noted that this was the fourth of six work sessions and gave an overview of the previous budget presentations. He stated that this workshop would be discussing parks and libraries, and they plan to have a budget wrap-up on February 12 where the Board will approve some budget guidelines he could share with the departments and the constitutional officers. He reported that because of the economic downturn in property values, the County finds itself $6 million short unless property values take a dramatic turnaround, which means that the departments are looking at absorbing a $1.5 million cut and the constitutional officers would be absorbing about $3 million. He explained that they broke the parks and library presentation into two parts by funding source to make it easier to understand, with the first part of the presentation on agricultural education, public lands, and library services, which are all funded by the general fund, and the second presentation on the MSTU which funds stormwater and parks. He commented that they were trying to focus on large departments and those with a lot of community interest.
Mr. Steve Koontz, Director of Fiscal and Management Services, related that this presentation would give an overview of what the Agricultural Education, Public Lands, and Library Services Departments get from the general fund; the impacts of the particular budgets from those public resource programs; program efficiencies; and problematic and other funding issues for those programs in the future. Mr. Koontz recapped what he had previously reported regarding the general fund, including that reserves would fall below the minimum 7 percent with existing conditions and an estimated 3 percent decline in property values and that they would still need an estimated amount of $1 million after the 5 percent reductions were made to meet the 7 percent reserve amount next fiscal year. He related that during the Public Transportation Budget Workshop, a recommendation was made to reduce or eliminate the South Lake Lynx routes, which would save the County $240,000. He also recapped that the general fund consisted of about $120 million, and the makeup of the general fund was 57 percent to the constitutional officers, 25 percent to the County departments, 3 percent to judicial support, and 15 percent for transfers and non-departmental items. He reported that Agricultural Education has an impact of $730,000 on the general fund for 2013, and he stated that the County has budgeted $470,000 out of the general fund for the operation and maintenance of the public lands this year. He explained that the transfer to the library fund went from $4.9 million in 2007 to $4 million for 2013, and he summarized that the total impact for all three programs was $5.2 million.
Ms. Wendy Breeden, Public Resources Director, explained that Agricultural Education, previously known as Agricultural Extension, is a division of the University of Florida’s (UF) Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in conjunction with the Board, which has a staff of 12, six of whom are Ag Agents, and in addition there are two grant funded positions associated with the Mobile Irrigation Lab, which is grant funded. She noted that extension Agent salaries are split between UF and the County, with the university responsible for most benefits, and support staff and facilities are funded by the general fund. She stated that the County has a memorandum of understanding with UF to help guide cooperation between the two parties. She related that staff members provide research-based information and education for businesses, residents, and youth, and the program areas include residential horticulture, Master Gardeners, family and consumer sciences, 4-H and youth development, livestock, and commercial fruit production. She mentioned that Discovery Gardens located at the Ag Center includes a 4 ½ acre demonstration garden which the horticultural leaning center made possible through extensive donor and volunteer participation. She specified that 62 percent of the Agricultural Education budget or $454,481 consists of personal services, with operating costs of 13 percent; in addition, the 4-H funds that are raised by the 4-H participants solely to be used for that program make up 9 percent of the budget, and the mobile irrigation grants make up 16 percent. She assured the Board that the Ag Center has implemented a number of efficiencies over the past years resulting in a reduction in staff, elimination of educational outreach programs to school children, and elimination of assistance to the local USDA office; and the Family and Consumer Science programs, the 4-H program, the Discovery Gardens Program, and other support functions have all been consolidated. Also, during this last fiscal year, improvements were made to the horticultural learning center that reduced operating costs and provided educational opportunities, including installation of solar panels, a rain cistern, and a rain garden. She stated that the main challenge of the Agricultural Education Division is the uncertainty of continued funding by the federal and state governments. She specified that Agricultural Education’s reductions of 5 to 10 percent would be from $36,500 to $73,000; however, due to the small size of its operating budget, it was not possible to reach exactly five percent, but three possible options for consideration are to eliminate financial support to the Lake Soil and Water Conservation District, request that the Master Gardeners take over responsibility for the gardens operating cost, or to entirely close Discovery Gardens.
Ms. Breeden recapped that in September of 2004 voters approved the Public Lands Referendum by over 70 percent which called for up to an additional one-third millage to allow the County to issue $36 million in bonds for the acquisition and improvement of land in order to improve drinking water, improve water quality in rivers and lakes, protect open space, and provide passive recreation areas. She related that over 2,050 acres have been acquired through the Public Lands Management Program since 2005 with help from the Public Lands Acquisition Advisory Council, which was repealed in 2011. She illustrated on a slide the inventory of 11 public lands properties maintained by the Division of Parks and Trails Public Lands Program, where limited passive recreation opportunities are offered on some such as hiking, birding, and educational programs. She pointed out that public lands operations, restoration, and maintenance are funded exclusively through the general fund, since the referendum bond funds can only be used for land acquisition and capital improvements for the property and not for restoration activities, and the program has two funded positions representing 21 percent of the budget. She further explained that the grant funds of almost $95,000 are for habitat conservation planned development, which is currently on hold as a request to restructure and extend the grant are considered by the state, and the remaining $277,000 in operating funds, which is 59 percent of the public lands budget, is used primarily for restoration and property maintenance such as removal of invasive plants and trash. She showed a graph of the acreage compared to the operating budget for the last four years, showing a declining operating budget, and she commented that they were currently performing only the most basic tasks at all of those properties. She noted that they have been implementing a number of necessary efficiencies and reductions, including reorganization of the Public Lands staff, outsourcing and phasing of some of the restoration work, reduction of nature-based events, and use of volunteers and partnerships. She pointed out that some of the public lands challenges are to find the funds for the maintenance of the capital improvements, ecological restoration, and completion of new projects. She also noted that a five percent reduction in this budget would entail that interpark trails be mowed bimonthly at the three open parks from March to October and quarterly the rest of the year, as well as maintaining fire lines and safety repairs, and mowing of interpark tails would be every fourth month with a ten percent reduction with no ecological restoration. She pointed out that the last option of closing all existing Public Lands properties to the public and just maintaining a fire line, emergency vehicle access, and trash pickup would save $70,000.
Commr. Cadwell clarified that any money made by selling surplus public lands that was purchased out of the referendum money would not go into the general fund, although it would reduce some of the operating and maintenance costs.
Ms. Breeden recapped that the Lake County Library System was originally formed as a cooperative system in 1982 through interlocal agreements with three municipal library governing bodies in order to provide countywide library service, and there are now nine member libraries, with only the Eustis library not in the system. She mentioned that the interlocal agreements are renegotiated every two to three years, and the current agreements expire September 30, 2013 and will need to be renegotiated. She noted that minimum guidelines are set for the member libraries, including a minimum of 35 service hours with at least six of those hours during evenings or weekends, having one full-time salaried supervisor, and a budget of $40,000. She added that six branch libraries were added to the system to serve vast areas of unincorporated Lake County that were without library service. She specified that the Library network maintains 466 computers at 16 locations, provides internet and Wi-Fi access at all locations, uses electronic catalog and patron database, and is starting to provide mobile access, as well as the law library and the courier service between libraries and some County offices. She reported that the Library Services budget of $4 million is a significant part of the general fund, but statistics show that Lake County is getting a good value for its tax dollars. She showed a chart of per capita statistics for the library system in relation to state averages published by the Florida Department of State, and she pointed out that the County library system exceeds state averages in every category except for total operating expenditures. She commented that Lake County libraries are definitely being used for circulation visits, program attendance, and computer sessions, and Lake County receives an extra benefit by operating as a cooperative. She noted that although the total operating expenditures from the 2010 fiscal year represent $24.92 per capita, general fund expense was $16.99 per capita, and the general fund expense for 2012 represented $15.12 per capita. She displayed a map showing the location of the member libraries and the county branch libraries distributed throughout the county and a graph indicating the amount of use each library receives from the public. She commented that direct payments to the member libraries have been decreasing since fiscal year 2008 as the library budget has decreased. She displayed a pie chart which shows the expenditure categories for Library Services, noting that personal services make up 55 percent of expenditures, the operating budget makes up 13 percent of the total, books and subscriptions represent 7 percent, and direct payments to the member libraries are 22.6 percent of the 2013 expenditure budget. She added that they have $94,000 in reserves as well as the capital outlay which will be used for purchase of a replacement van for the courier service. The library fund includes several sources of revenue, with the main source of revenue being the transfer from the general fund at 83 percent, as well as revenue generated from fines and fees, contributions from Polk and Osceola Counties, 4 percent from state grants, and fund balance. She noted that there were significant program reductions last year and that the fund balance was reduced.
Ms. Breeden showed a graph illustrating the reduced hours of the six branch libraries from 62 in 2008 to 45 in 2012, but pointed out that despite the cuts in funding and available hours, leading indicators of library use and demand have continued to rise by over 58 percent since 2008. She listed some efficiencies and service reductions that have been enacted to bring costs down, such as elimination of interlibrary loan, reduced hours by 27 percent over the last five years, reduced online databases, reduced services, position reductions of 20 percent, and utilization of volunteers. She related that several efficiencies are currently being explored to provide cheaper services in the mid to long range future, such as renegotiating the future internet contract for a lower price, applying for a federal program, changing the library operating software system to a more cost-efficient service solution, and exploring centralized branch services. She reported that some of the challenges for the library system were changing technology, continuous learning for staff, maintaining access, sustainable funding, and funding participation by Osceola and Polk Counties. She related that the Law Library was transferred to Library Services from the Clerk’s Office in 2008 and is housed at Cooper Memorial Library in Clermont with a contract with Westlaw databases. She proposed two options regarding the Law Library, which was to reduce funding of it to the amount of revenue that they collect of approximately $60,000, limiting any database use to the Cooper location; or to eliminate the Law Library, which would save $182,017. Other considerations she proposed to reduce budget costs were a reduction of 5 percent to all member libraries, discontinue funding to the Minneola and Montverde libraries, or discontinue funding to Howey-in-the-Hills and Fruitland Park libraries as well as Minneola and Montverde. She also stated that either closing the Paisley library or combining the Astor and Paisley branch libraries would provide efficiencies in the funding by having a reduced staff that would serve both branches and by alternating the days of service for each branch, eliminating two full-time positions.
Commr. Sullivan asked who uses the law library.
Mr. Paul Alford, Library Services Manager, responded that the Westlaw statistics for usage average about 16 hours per month currently, and the primary users were the general public who were filling out forms for divorce and other legal matters.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that in the past, the attorneys fought against discontinuing that service, since many did not have the Westlaw services that they have now.
Commr. Campione commented that a small number of people are using the law library compared to how many people would be affected by cuts to other services.
Commr. Conner opined that they should take action this fiscal year to start having staff review potential cuts to this program rather than waiting to do that.
Ms. Breeden reported that the contract for Westlaw expires September 30, 2013.
Commr. Cadwell commented that closing libraries would put a larger strain on their city libraries at the same time they were reducing their funding, and he was concerned about some of those city partners leaving the County library system as a result after working for so long to get to the point the County was now. He suggested that they find additional revenue to help with these problems. He also pointed out that the libraries were the only public gathering places in those communities for adults as well as children.
Ms. Breeden elaborated that the per capita patronage at the Paisley and Astor libraries was very high.
Commr. Sullivan wanted them to look at libraries that were not meeting the County’s standards and commented that they have those standards for a reason. He also stated that he sees that the libraries are highly utilized, and he realizes that was a tough place to make cuts.
Commr. Campione opined that closing the outlying libraries should be the last alternative, since it gave the students in the area access to educational materials and were the only places for young people to frequent where they were not getting into trouble, and she believed closing the law library should be considered instead, since that was a luxury they could not afford. She also agreed with the concern about putting greater strain on the member libraries.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that access to computers are important for a large part of the population, such as those trying to find work or training.
Commr. Campione commented that she found the information and the specific dollar amounts given in the presentation extremely helpful.
Commr. Sullivan believed that these workshops help the Board to figure out their priorities regarding the quality of life they want to attain in the community and what they are willing to tell the taxpayers about needing more money for things that will affect the quality of life of the residents.
The Chairman opened the public hearing regarding Library Services.
Mr. David Brooks, a resident of Sorrento, commented that the libraries are very important to them and were a meeting ground for the community, and he pointed out that there was no other community building of any kind in east Lake County to meet for public discussions. He added that the East Lake Library 2013 calendar is reserved throughout the year by not-for-profit entities such as the Historical Society and Friends of the Library.
Ms. Christina Wilkins, the former President of the Master Gardeners Society, thanked the Board for bringing up the crucial issue of quality of life in Lake County and commented that Discovery Gardens offers a place where they can educate children, look at the beauty of nature, and learn how to plant a garden. She clarified that the Master Gardeners were asked last year to take on $10,000 of operating expenses for the gardens, but their membership did not want to mandatorily have their volunteer-raised funds taken from them, since they would rather voluntarily contribute to the ongoing well-being of the gardens. She pointed out, however, that over the last four years their group has contributed over $40,000 that they raised through plant sales, and they have taken up the slack of cut personnel to try to keep the gardens open and beautiful. She commented that the County would be losing the gardens as well as all of the contributory work from the Master Gardeners volunteers if the Board decided to close it.
Ms. Linda Bystrak, a resident of Leesburg, related that the grants administrator position for the mobile water lab is funded by three grants for salaries and all of the equipment for that mobile lab, which helps the farmers and horticulturalists cut down their water use. She specified that since 2006 that program has saved an average of 200 million gallons of water a year, and she opined that is was an exemplary and essential program, especially in view of the county’s desperate need for water, particularly in South Lake. She asked the Board to consider the water savings, which she opined was the same as finding another water source, when looking at that position which helps to administer this grant and the extensive paperwork associated with it.
Ms. Becky Adesso, a resident of the Paisley area, stated that she was deeply concerned about the possible cuts they were discussing for the Paisley Library, and she specified that the Paisley area is home to 2,178 residents, with 511 of them under the age of 18, who have no other organizations to join or places to meet. She added that the average median household income for those residents is $24,500, which was half of the average for Florida residents, and 29 percent of Paisley residents live in poverty. She noted that most of the 511 students do not have access to the internet for their school work or after-school care, and there were 26 known sex offenders and predators in the area and countless drug dealers. She commented that the library was the one place that offers a safe haven and an alternative for those students, as well as research; tutoring; and after-school, art, and summer programs. She provided some suggestions for raising additional revenue, such as advertising on the County website, charging for internet access, and raising the late fees on books.
Anthony Testino, a sixth-grade student at Spring Creek Charter School, stated that the gifted students do not have the books that they need which are on their level in the school library, and the Paisley Library is the only place that has those books for them. He also mentioned that many students do not have transportation to a bookstore.
Mr. Tod Howard, a resident of Clermont and a member of the Lake County School Board, related that they were in transition to a greater technological society, and the School Board has already started that transition. He stated that students will need access to that technology, and the library is going to be where students who do not have access to the internet at home will go to do that. He added that it would be especially important for the dual language students to be able to have that help and the computers in a place where they can use them. He suggested that the Board align those budget items with those priorities, and he mentioned that there was a law program at Minneola High School which may need access to the law library. He also suggested looking at some interlocal agreements between the BCC and School Board to save money, share resources such as computers, and still provide better services to their community.
Mr. Roy Hunter, a resident of Paisley, stated that the Paisley library is a meeting place for everyone in that widely spread out area and that it is really needed. He related that there were about 500-600 students who attended Spring Creek School, and he commented that both the school and Paisley Library develops imagination through crafts and other programs, which he opined was the only way our country develops, in the children who live in the area. He also pointed out that the library was open on Saturdays and during the summer when the school was closed, and he commented that the library was important to the older residents as well, especially those that could not afford gasoline to travel long distances. He requested that the Board keep the Paisley Library as is.
Ms. Jennifer Farrell, a resident of Mt. Plymouth, related that she started a non-profit organization with the help of East Lake Library which gives a lot of individual attention that is not provided at the Mount Dora Library, and she also mentioned that the Mount Dora Library has a completely different atmosphere. She commented that East Lake Library was very helpful to their community, and she opined that it did not seem like there was an equal distribution of funding between libraries, and she suggested that they distribute funding to the libraries according to needs.
Ms. Daisy Millett, a resident of Paisley, commented that the Paisley Library is a very vital part of that community, and there are always people frequenting the library such as children doing research and older people filling out forms online. She also pointed out that Spring Creek School utilizes that library, and the students have had some of the highest grades in the county, even though many come from households with some of the lowest incomes in the county.
Ms. Linda Heizer, a resident of Royal Highlands, commented that Discovery Gardens is the best combination of education, public service, and entertainment that she has ever seen, pointing out that it was a hands-on venue illustrating the Florida plants in actual growing conditions in all seasons all in one place as well as landscaping that requires low water usage. She stated that she knows of no other facility where people can learn firsthand about so many things related to the environment, ecosystems, and the flora. She requested that the gardens were not considered an expense by the Board, but an investment.
Ms. Betty Ann Christian, a resident of Sorrento, requested that the Board consider their library as a necessity and a positive outreach that holds their community together, and she commented that removing the Sorrento Library would harm that community. She asked the Board to find another way to balance the budget.
Mr. Richard Costello, a resident of Mount Dora, expressed a concern about libraries in areas like Sorrento, which he commented are a vital need for the spread of the size of the county and the needs of children in the county to develop knowledge about the world around them.
recess and reassembly
The Chairman announced at 3:15 p.m. that there would be a ten-minute recess.
parks and stormwater mstu budget workshop
Mr. Koontz related that they would be discussing the Parks and Stormwater MSTU, which is a separate and independent fund for programs for unincorporated Lake County, and specified that although the millage for this fund was .6 in FY 2007, the millage rate has stayed constant since 2008 at .4984. He illustrated with a bar graph the breakdown of the funding between roads, parks, and stormwater since 2007, noting that it was not a main source of funding for parks in 2007 and 2008, but was a major source for stormwater during that time. However, he noted that in the last few years, only about 13 to 15 percent of the MSTU has been used for stormwater, mainly for only operations, maintenance, permitting, and flood plan reviews rather than stormwater projects. He pointed out that the percentage of the fund used for parks funding has gone up each year to the point where it is currently 87 percent of that budget and that all of the funding operation and maintenance is coming from this fund rather than the general fund. He emphasized that the MSTU fund has been decreasing from $6.4 million to $3.8 million since 2007, although the number of parks have been increasing. He reported that under the current projections, they were looking at a 0 to 3 percent decrease in the fund corresponding with the decrease in ad valorem taxes for a total of about $115,000, although last fiscal year the amount of the MSTU decreased by 6.8 percent in accordance with a 6.2 percent ad valorem reduction. He also mentioned that there were no reserves currently in the parks fund for contingency.
Ms. Breeden pointed out that there has been a significant increase in the managed acreage of the parks from 672 acres in 2006 to 3111 acres today, and they were aggressively developing strategies and implementing programs geared toward protecting and improving their quality of life, providing a quality and balanced parks and recreation system, preserving and protecting the county’s natural resources and unique character, and promoting ecotourism, sports and tourism consistent with County goals. She commented that stabilized funding for daily operations and maintenance of the park system continues to be a big challenge, since the growth of the park system has outpaced its ability to keep up with maintenance and capital improvements and is beginning to impact service delivery. She showed a slide illustrating where active recreation activities are offered, including athletic fields, and she noted that since 2009 they have hosted almost 9,000 sports games at those parks. She mentioned that the County implemented a small fee in 2009 for the use of athletic fields, rental of pavilions, and concessions which has brought in over $224,000 in fee-based revenue to help offset some of the maintenance costs. She related that Lake County has been developing a County-wide trail system that requires maintenance, and Parks & Trails has also become responsible for maintenance of seven cemeteries at a cost of about $75,000 in accordance state law.
Ms. Breeden related that Parks & Trails has implemented a number of efficiencies to help maintain its mission of providing a safe, clean, and attractive park system as it experiences rapid growth and budget pressures at the same time, such as reorganization of staff, outsourcing, phased development, in-house projects, use of many volunteers and partnerships, and reduction of nature-based events in order for park rangers to perform basic restoration duties. She displayed a list of new and prospective projects that include potential opportunities and partnerships as well as projects that are in the planning and construction phase. She stated that one of the areas that has suffered most from the rapid growth of active parks is funding for the restoration efforts of the passive and resource-based parks, and some of the budget impacts to these parks may include more degraded areas that are already in need of restoration and potential for greater fire danger. She also mentioned that ecological restoration at PEAR Park and Ferndale Preserve are part of the Florida Community’s Trust grant requirements per the land acquisition for those parks. She noted that the Parks & Recreation Master Plan recommends phasing out the smaller parks from County inventory, surplusing some of the many parks or pocket parks, to free up funds to address the needs of the other larger parks which offer more recreational opportunities. She indicated that a three percent reduction, which was $90,000 in funding, to the Parks & Trails program include top dressing only those athletic fields in the worst condition until 2015, delay the prescribed fires in PEAR park, reduce the Bahia mowing contract, delay replacement of site furnishings and amenities countywide, and reduce landscaping countywide. She pointed out that any additional projects that are added would result in further degradation of park maintenance and a decreased level of service.
Commr. Cadwell commented that parks were an economic development asset, and they needed to keep up the facilities they have.
Mr. Jim Stivender, Public Works Director, noted that the Stormwater Program has been around since 1968, which was when the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was instituted. He pointed out that the County was one of the first counties in the state that had a pollution control department on a local level, which was funded by the general fund, and he recalled that at that time a lot of the cities were dumping raw sewage into the lakes. He mentioned that the Community Rating System (CRS) starting in 1999 was a capital improvement plan for cleaning up waterways, such as retrofitting older subdivisions that had direct discharge into bodies of water, which saves a lot of Lake County taxpayers money on their flood insurance, and one of their challenges was to continue to maintain a positive percentage discount during the next upcoming CRS audit in 2013. He added that they were required under the Clean Water Act to issue NPDES permits to regulate point sources that discharge pollutants into waters affecting the state, and an NPDES audit is coming up later this year. He indicated that one of their biggest challenges is criteria that will be established for the TMDL water standards, since the federal and state governments have not agreed on that criteria, and another challenge is an upcoming Fertilizer Ordinance on impaired bodies of water, which has been a challenge especially in more agricultural Lake County. He listed some of the efficiencies they have been trying to institute regarding the stormwater program, including contracted maintenance, phasing of projects, in-house design on smaller projects rather than hire consultants, and staff cross-training. He listed some of the projects that were pending, the engineer’s estimate of the projects’ cost, and the phase the project currently was in. He commented that in order to save money, the County could defer a couple of those projects. He reported that the operating budget was just under $500,000, which funded six positions and operating expenses, including contract services to maintain those facilities. He noted that they were tackling the worst problems first, so the projects that were pending were on the worst discharge basins in the county regarding water quality.
Mr. Koontz summarized that there was no funding for any new stormwater projects other than those that were listed earlier by Mr. Stivender, and the County could not continue to grow the park system without additional funding for maintenance. He related that there would be no change in the allocation formula for Parks and Stormwater moving forward into 2014, and he indicated that reductions in funding will result in reduced maintenance for parks and trails and delayed stormwater projects.
Commr. Cadwell pointed out that the city residents were not contributing anything towards park funding, even though they used the parks as much as residents from the unincorporated areas. He asked for the Board to think about not depending completely on the MSTU for that, since that money was coming only from taxpayers in the unincorporated areas.
The Chairman opened the public hearing.
Mr. Rick Roberts, a resident of Clermont, stated that he was pleased that the County is making progress in providing parks for their youth, but he was concerned about the County’s ability to keep up with the maintenance of those parks. He pointed out that the County needed to keep the sports fields in good condition in order to lease the parks out for tournaments, which is a growing source of income for the County, and he indicated that he would be in favor of increasing the tax assessment in order to fund those.
Commr. Parks elaborated that they needed attractive parks to be used as an economic driver, such as MAC Park as an overload facility from the NTC (National Training Center).
Mr. Chris Merrill, resident of Umatilla and President of US Babe Ruth which plays at North Lake Community Park, reported that there were 176 baseball players, 390 football players and cheerleaders, and 300 soccer players using that park last year; and his league scheduled 116 home games. He commented that it was a very highly used park and did generate some revenue; however, he opined that the fees they paid to play there were minimal compared to the costs to maintain that facility. He asked the Board to raise the budget for the parks, noting that the fields were starting to have some maintenance issues and that the North Lake Community Park did not have any lights, which creates limitations and challenges regarding the hours they could play.
Mr. Mike Stone, Chairman of the Parks, Recreation and Trails Advisory Board, opined that children would get into trouble if they are deprived of the opportunity to get out and do things. He commented that the master plan from 2004 reflected exactly what the residents of Lake County needed and wanted; and Mr. Bobby Bonilla, Parks and Trails Division Manager, has accomplished some astronomical achievements since then. He specified that the County saw an economic and tourist impact of over $1 million as a result of the five sports tournaments held in the County during November and December.
There being no one else who wished to speak, the Chairman closed the public hearing.
Mr. Heath recapped that the Board has met recently with the representatives from the Central Florida Veterans Memorial Park Foundation regarding the possibility of Lake County contributing $75,000 to the veterans’ memorial planned in southeast Orange County. He requested that the Board authorize him to draft a letter to send to that group informing them that the County could not help with that funding at this time because of the extreme budget constraints the County is experiencing, but will possibly review it in future years. He received consensus of the Board to send that letter and indicated that he would copy the Board on that.
Commr. Sullivan commented that they could do something for the veterans’ community in Lake County that would be a lot less expensive.
There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
leslie campione, chairman
NEIL KELLY, CLERK